Wednesday, December 26, 2012

a lovely Christmas mosaic


As much as I love chocolate desserts, I also have a weakness for any baked good that turns apples into warm bites of melt-in-my-mouth yumminess.  Pie, crumble, turnover - all so very tasty. So it was a delightful moment to find this recipe for an apple tart.


But in reading through the recipe, I also knew it wouldn't be something I "threw together" on a weeknight to take into the office for a treat.  (That's what apple crumble is for!)  If I was going to peel and core and slice and oh, learn to make a caramel sauce, I'd wait for an occasion.


Besides - it looked so amazingly pretty that it felt like, no matter the effort or work involved, this tart deserved an occasion - something like Christmas Eve dinner with my family.

(And yes, my tart is square. The only frozen puff pastry I could find was from Pepperidge Farm, and I was too lazy to take the two smaller pieces and roll them into one larger rectangle...especially since it only needed to serve five people.)


Once I had the tart in the oven, I turned my attention to making the caramel glaze. Note to self: read the prelude to the recipe just as closely as the recipe itself, so you don't miss that part about not stirring the sugar while it melts. Or, if you do forget about the prelude, at the very least, don't use a plastic spoon. A successful attempt to caramelize sugar is fruitless if you've infused it with melted spoon plastic.


As I worked on cleaning the sugar-plastic mess out of my saucepan, I was relieved to see the tart itself come out nicely. I wasn't quite sure what the recipe meant, when it indicated that the apples "should feel soft, but dry to the touch" - until I took the tray out of the oven and knew, just by looking at the apples, that they were there.


Additional note to self: don't pause in your second attempt at making the caramel glaze to take a picture.  Because in that few seconds, the sugar-butter will begin to harden so densely that the heavy cream will not blend easily.  Sigh.


Thankfully, I was able to work with the caramel glaze enough to salvage something use-able (if less caramel-y than I believe it should have been) and proceed with the last steps of the recipe.


I must say this, though - if you ever try this recipe, pay even closer attention to Smitten's warning about leftover caramel. Even with my less-than-ideal caramel, it made a fantastic dip for the leftover pieces of apple. Mmm, mmm. You've been double-warned!


Now, I have to admit - I was disappointed (a lot!) that my tart was not so beautifully golden and warm and rich in its appearance.  Sigh.


However, it tasted wonderful - sweet, with a little bit of tartness, and a very subtle caramel flavor (that I think would be stronger if I hadn't had to use so much extra heavy cream to get the caramel glaze use-able)...and surprisingly yummy at room temperature (which is what the recipe calls for). Jjust what I wanted, and a great dessert to have at the end of the hor d'ouevres buffet that Mom makes every Christmas Eve.

Where I am: home
What I'm reading: One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

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